Mary Hays Weik, a writer and an activist in the world government and antinuclear movements, was born on December 28, 1898, in Greencastle, Indiana, and died December 25, 1979, in New York City. She was the daughter of Jesse W. Weik, a biographer of Abraham Lincoln.
Mary Weik graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle in 1918 and worked for a time as a reporter for a Chicago newspaper. Later, as a staff writer for Street and Smith Publications in New York City, she authored a number of short stories and radio scripts. During the 1930's she edited a history of the New York City Fire Department for the Federal Writer's Project.
After World War II Weik became involved in the movement for a world government. She served as chairman of the Federalist Forum, a series of public meetings held in New York City in 1950 to discuss world problems and the means of creating a world government, and was involved in several world government organizations, including the International Registry of World Citizens. The Registry was an attempt to promote cooperation among nations by registering individuals of various countries as "world citizens." Around 1954 Weik organized the American Federation of World Citizens, the purpose of which was to develop citizen awareness and understanding of world affairs by encouraging the establishment of study and action groups in local communities. The Federation also worked for an end to the nuclear arms race and a ban on atomic industries and power plants, and urged that the United Nations be strengthened so that it could effectively maintain the peace.
Weik's interests in the 1950's extended to the problems of civil liberties and civil rights. She did research on right-wing organizations and wrote an article entitled "Shadow Over America," which described the system of federal detention camps being kept in readiness for "potential spies and subversives" in the event of national emergency.
Weik moved to Cincinnati in 1951 to live with her son John, who was attending graduate school there. While living in Cincinnati Weik became involved in the Avondale Community Council, a citizens' organization concerned with improving the neighborhood, and the Lytle Park North Association, which was formed to preserve a group of historic residences threatened by the construction of a freeway.
In the early 1960's Weik became increasingly concerned about the development of nuclear power and the threat it posed to human health and safety. In 1962 she helped organize and served as chairman of the Women's Committee to Stop the Ravenswood Reactor, which fought against a proposed nuclear power plant in New York City. After Consolidated Edison decided not to build the Ravenswood reactor, Weik reorganized the committee as the Committee to End Radiological Hazards, a non-partisan committee of private citizens concerned about the problems associated with nuclear energy.
The Committee to End Radiological Hazards was essentially a one-woman operation which had as its primary goal the dissemination of information about nuclear hazards and antinuclear activities. Weik edited a monthly newsletter, Window on the World , and wrote a series of articles on various aspects of the nuclear power question. In addition to her writing, Weik was involved in the fight to stop construction of nuclear power plants at Indian Point and West Valley, New York, and in the 1970's served as a citizen intervenor in the Atomic Energy Commission hearings to determine whether Columbia University should be granted a license to build and operate a nuclear research reactor on campus. Weik was active in the antinuclear movement until her death in 1979, corresponding with other activists in the United States and abroad and making a number of trips in the United States, Canada, and Europe to publicize the dangers of nuclear power.
Mary Weik was the author of The Jazz Man (1966), a children's book illustrated by her daughter Ann Grifalconi that won a Newbery award. She also wrote The House on Liberty Street (1973), a story of German immigrants in the Midwest based on her grandfather's experiences.
Weik married Joseph Grifalconi in 1925. They divorced in 1934. They had two children, John Grifalconi, born in 1927, and Ann Grifalconi, born in 1929.